Google Pledges to Clean Up Orkut Social Network

The head of Google in Brazil said Wednesday the Internet giant will take actions to stop child pornography and hate crimes on a social-networking Web site used here — but he did not offer to provide user information to officials.

Alexandre Hohagen's declaration to a Brazilian Senate panel marked a step forward in efforts to block offensive material from the popular Orkut Web site.

Last August, federal prosecutors said Google failed to comply with requests to provide information about users who allegedly spread child pornography and hate speech against black people, Jews and homosexuals on Orkut.

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Google eliminated the users from Orkut groups but refused to release information about them to authorities, arguing it is bound by U.S. laws guaranteeing freedom of speech.

About 55 percent of the 60 million-plus Orkut users worldwide are Brazilian.

Hohagen said the company will install filters to stop the spread of child pornography and retain six months of records on users who access or spread illicit material, according to a summary of his testimony presented on the Senate's Web site Wednesday. Google now keeps those records for only 30 days.

Google also will advise authorities and provide them copies of the forbidden text and images, Hohagen said.

Hohagen said the new measures will likely be effective by June.

Senators hailed the decision and commended the company's cooperation.

"The Internet allows pedophiles to remain in the shadows. It's time to exchange shadows for jail," Sen. Romeu Tuma said.